Latinx Files: When Mexicans became ‘White’-ish

Posted in Articles, Caribbean/Latin America, Census/Demographics, History, Latino Studies, Media Archive, Mexico, Slavery, Texas, United States on 2022-05-12 16:41Z by Steven

Latinx Files: When Mexicans became ‘White’-ish

The Los Angeles Times
2022-05-12

Fidel Martinez

“We didn’t receive the rights of white people, only the illusion.” (Martina Ibáñez-Baldor / Los Angeles Times; Getty Images)

Hi folks, Fidel here. Every once in a while, I’ll ask a guest writer to take over the main story. We’ve experimented with formats here and there — we recently ran an illustration — and this week it’s no different. Below is an excerpt from Julissa Arce’s memoir, “You Sound Like a White Girl: The Case for Rejecting Assimilation.”

The first colonizers to arrive in what is now the United States were not the pilgrims in 1620. It was the Spanish, who came to New Mexico in 1598. The oldest capital in the country, Santa Fe, was founded in 1610 by a Spaniard who was born in Mexico. This is not a point of pride but a part of our complicated story. Along with Spanish colonizers looking for riches, priests looking for souls to save, many Indigenous people came as well — some as servants, others forcibly to quench the lust of men, some as wives, and many more for endless other reasons.

After gaining its independence from Spain, Mexican authorities attempted to increase the population in its northern territory — a land that stretched all the way up the west coast of California and across to the Rocky Mountains — and so welcomed Anglo immigrants. By 1834, more than 30,000 of them lived in Texas, heavily outnumbering the Mexican population of 7,800.*

Mexico abolished African slavery in 1829, before the U.S. Emancipation Proclamation in 1863, but those Anglo immigrants had brought with them more than 5,000 enslaved people in violation of Mexican law. This is where the story needs some revision. Texas’ independence from Mexico and eventual annexation into the United States is often told as a freedom fight. But Anglo Texans wanted to be “free” in order to keep Black people enslaved. They became legends while stealing Black bodies, stealing Mexican land, and terrorizing native Tejanos. The Mexicans who stayed in Texas were treated as second-class citizens, an attitude that still pollinates along with the bluebonnets, their stories lost to white historians. The horrors that Mexicans suffered in Texas at the hands of Anglos have been buried in forgotten graves, in cemeteries that no longer exist. However, in Texas history classes, Davy Crockett, William B. Travis, and Jim Bowie die heroes at the Alamo, killed by the vicious Mexican army — a story still retold in museums and textbooks. They were visitors, undocumented immigrants even, and by proclaiming self-rule, they forced Mexico into war….

Read the entire article here.

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He risked his life to become a founding father of civil rights. Why was he forgotten?

Posted in Articles, Biography, History, Media Archive, Passing, Social Justice, United States on 2022-02-11 03:18Z by Steven

He risked his life to become a founding father of civil rights. Why was he forgotten?

The Los Angeles Times
2022-02-09

Stuart Miller

Walter F. White, forgotten civil rights hero and the subject of a new book. (Schomberg Center, New York Public Library)

Mention Walter White and it will likely conjure an image of Bryan Cranston from “Breaking Bad,” playing the man who snarled, “I am the danger.”

But there’s a real-life Walter White who deserves to be a household name — a Black man who faced unfathomable danger in pursuit of truth and justice as he did battle with the American way. White should rank alongside Thurgood Marshall, Martin Luther King Jr. and Malcolm X as a founding father of the civil rights era. Yet he is all but forgotten today.

That oversight gets an overdue correction in A.J. Baime’s engrossing new biography, “White Lies: The Double Life of Walter F. White and America’s Darkest Secret.”…

Read the entire article here.

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‘Passing’ keeps its writing simple, asking viewers to lean in for greater understanding

Posted in Arts, Literary/Artistic Criticism, Media Archive, United States on 2022-01-21 02:00Z by Steven

‘Passing’ keeps its writing simple, asking viewers to lean in for greater understanding

The Los Angeles Times
2022-01-18

Rebecca Hall

Adapting Nella Larsen’s slim novella took writer-director Rebecca Hall 13 years. “Ultimately, I did my best to build my script and my film, not so much out of language as out of small moments of behavior,” she says. (Myung J. Chun / Los Angeles Times)

My adaptation of Nella Larsen’s “Passing” had a slow birth, even by the often glacial standards of script development. When I started writing, I was an actress in my 20s with vague but fervent aspirations to one day direct. I wrote the first draft in 10 days, immediately after first reading the novel, in something of a fugue state. I was fascinated but also mystified by that fascination, and my first draft was crude and impractical. I didn’t think for a second that I would ever have the means or the courage to turn it into a film.

In retrospect, I probably could never have written it otherwise. Over the years, I tinkered, adjusting it radically and then minutely and then radically again until it became something of a piece of me — not so much a project or a process as a thing that I have lived in dialogue with for the better part of my adult life.

The main challenge of the adaptation revolved around the character of Irene. Contemporary reviewers often missed both Irene’s centrality and her fundamental unreliability. Clare, the object of Irene’s obsession, was frequently taken to be the main character, rather than one half of the extraordinary — and extraordinarily complicated — relationship that drives the action…

Read the entire article here.

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Passing as white would make it easier to work in Mexico, she said. White migrant advocates seem to automatically command respect from locals in Reynosa. But instead of passing, Rangel-Samponaro has tried to leverage being biracial.

Posted in Excerpts/Quotes on 2022-01-11 18:51Z by Steven

Passing as white would make it easier to work in Mexico, she said. White migrant advocates seem to automatically command respect from locals in Reynosa. But instead of passing, [Felicia] Rangel-Samponaro has tried to leverage being biracial.

When she tells Mexican officials about her father, they smile and give her high fives. When she tells them she’s Black, they’re surprised.

“In their minds, Black people don’t cross into Mexico to help others,” she said.

Black migrants usually assume she’s Latina. So she makes a point of saying that she identifies as Black and that, “We are going through the same struggles.”

Molly Hennessy-Fiske, “The woman defending Black lives on the border, including her own,” The Los Angeles Times, December 27, 2021. https://www.latimes.com/world-nation/story/2021-12-27/the-woman-defending-black-lives-on-the-border.

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The woman defending Black lives on the border, including her own

Posted in Articles, Caribbean/Latin America, Latino Studies, Media Archive, Mexico, Passing, Social Justice, United States on 2021-12-28 02:20Z by Steven

The woman defending Black lives on the border, including her own

The Los Angeles Times
2021-12-27

Molly Hennessy-Fiske, Houston Bureau Chief
Photography by Gina Ferazzi

Black border activist Felicia Rangel-Samponaro walks along a line of migrants at a border camp clinic Dec. 6 in Reynosa, Mexico. The nonprofit Sidewalk School she founded three years ago provides education and other services. (Gina Ferazzi / Los Angeles Times)

REYNOSA, Mexico — So much of her is hyphenated, not just her name: Felicia Rangel-Samponaro. With caramel skin and curly brown hair that’s often tied back, she can pass as Latina.

But she identifies as Black.

On the Texas-Mexico border, she’s emerged as a vigorous defender of immigrants, and that work often forces her to reckon with how race and ethnicity — real and perceived — shape lives on the border, including her own.

“There’s a lot of oppression, discrimination and racism that goes on, on both sides of the border,” she said…

Read the entire article here.

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‘Passing,’ Ruth Negga refuses to be pinned down

Posted in Articles, Arts, Autobiography, Europe, Interviews, Media Archive, Passing, United Kingdom, United States, Women on 2021-11-12 19:40Z by Steven

‘Passing,’ Ruth Negga refuses to be pinned down

The Los Angeles Times
2021-11-11

Sonaiya Kelley, Staff Writer

Actress Ruth Negga stars in “Passing,” now streaming on Netflix. (Jason Armond / Los Angeles Times)

Ruth Negga has given the subject of identity a lot of thought.

And not just because she stars as Clare Kendry, a fair-skinned Black woman who moves through life as a white woman, in “Passing,” Rebecca Hall’s adaptation of Nella Larsen’s 1929 novel. No, Negga’s musings on identity stem back to her childhood in Ireland and England, where she was first introduced to the concept of being othered.

“To be honest, I’ve never fit in anywhere,” she said over Zoom in October. “I think being Black in Ireland when there wasn’t that many Black people and being Black and Irish in London at an all-white school in the early ’90s wasn’t great for me either.”

At the same time, being hard to categorize has not always been a bad thing, she says. “I think sometimes there is a pleasure I get in being different. I felt safe being the other in many ways because that’s where I could be my whole, true self.”

The Ethiopian-Irish actor frequently upends notions of social constructs such as race and identity in her work. In “Passing,” which is set in the 1920s, Clare enjoys the privileges afforded only to white women by day while sneaking off to Harlem to commune with Black folks by night (Tessa Thompson co-stars as Irene, a woman who only flirts with the possibility of passing). And in 2016’s “Loving,” Negga stars as Mildred Jeter, a woman in an interracial marriage who challenges the Supreme Court to end the anti-miscegenation laws that condemn her marriage as unlawful…

Read the entire interview here.

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Op-Ed: Why did so few Latinos identify themselves as white in the 2020 census?

Posted in Articles, Census/Demographics, Latino Studies, Media Archive, Social Science, United States on 2021-09-11 18:19Z by Steven

Op-Ed: Why did so few Latinos identify themselves as white in the 2020 census?

The Los Angeles Times
2021-09-09

Manuel Pastor, Distinguished Professor of Sociology
University of Southern California

Pierrette Hondagneu-Sotelo, Florence Everline Professor of Sociology
University of Southern California


Under the category “white” on the 2020 census form, there were names of countries not usually associated with Latinos in Los Angeles. (John Roark / Idaho Post-Register)

The 2020 census results made a splash in mid-August with this clear message: A declining number of people in the United States identify themselves as white, and the shift is happening faster than many had predicted. But all the justified focus on the “browning” of America obscured a second storyline: the browning of Brown America.

Strikingly, the share of Latinos who identified their race as white in the 2020 census fell from about 53% in 2010 to about 20% in 2020; the share who identified as “other” rose from 37% to 42%, and the share identifying as two or more races jumped from 6% to 33%. These are big changes — ones that cannot be explained just by intermarriage and ones that challenge a narrative that Latinos will eventually assimilate into whiteness.

So what’s going on? Partly, the census shifts reflect a change in the way the government collects data. When it asked for race, the census in 2020 added prompts under the “white” category that included countries not associated with America’s Latino population. Still, the move away from “white” is so dramatic that it could be other factors as well — such as a xenophobic political climate that has made many Latinos aware that whiteness may not be easily within their reach…

Read the entire article here.

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Colin Kaepernick’s new children’s book will explore the beauty of being ‘different’

Posted in Articles, Autobiography, Media Archive, United States on 2021-08-21 03:27Z by Steven

Colin Kaepernick’s new children’s book will explore the beauty of being ‘different’

The Los Angeles Times
2021-07-15

Donovan X. Ramsey, Staff Writer


Colin Kaepernick, seen in 2019, has written a picture book that will be released next year. (Todd Kirkland / Associated Press)

Colin Kaepernick announced Thursday that he will release “I Color Myself Different,” a children’s book, next year. The athlete-turned-activist’s Kaepernick Publishing company will publish the picture book in partnership with Scholastic as part of a multibook deal.

The story within “I Color Myself Different” is based on a pivotal moment in Kaepernick’s childhood when, during a drawing exercise in kindergarten, a young Kaepernick drew his adopted white family in yellow crayon and then drew himself brown. It was the first time he acknowledged the difference in their appearance, and the small act empowered him to celebrate differences.

“This story is deeply personal to me and inspired by real events in my life,” said Kaepernick in a press release Thursday. “I hope that it honors the courage and bravery of young people everywhere by encouraging them to live life with authenticity and purpose.”…

Read the entire article here.

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Regé-Jean Page rises above ‘Krypton’ casting controversy: ‘We still fly’

Posted in Articles, Arts, Media Archive, United States on 2021-04-08 03:12Z by Steven

Regé-Jean Page rises above ‘Krypton’ casting controversy: ‘We still fly’

The Los Angeles Times
2021-04-06

Christi Carras, Staff Writer


Bridgerton” star Regé-Jean Page attends a 2020 Vanity Fair BAFTAs party in London. (Jeff Spicer / Getty Images)

DC Entertainment reportedly passed on “Bridgerton” breakout Regé-Jean Page for a role in Syfy’sKrypton” after an executive allegedly argued that the series’ lead could not be portrayed by a Black actor.

Before his star skyrocketed with the release of Shonda Rhimes’ hit period drama, Page auditioned to play Superman’s grandfather in the action program, according to The Hollywood Reporter. Despite the “Krypton” creators’ reported desire to diversify the DC Extended Universe, then-DC chief creative officer Geoffrey Johns allegedly said Superman’s grandfather could not be Black.

In a statement paraphrased Tuesday by THR, a rep for Johns defended the casting decision on the grounds that the Hollywood exec “believed fans expected the character to look like a young Henry Cavill,” who is white and plays Superman in the DC films. The starring role in “Krypton,” which ran for two seasons from 2018 to 2019, eventually went to white actor Cameron Cuffe

Read the entire article here.

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Kamala Harris

Posted in Asian Diaspora, Audio, Interviews, Media Archive, Politics/Public Policy, United States on 2020-06-25 15:17Z by Steven

Kamala Harris

Asian Enough
Los Angeles Times
2020-06-23

A conversation with Democratic U.S. Sen. Kamala Harris about the recent rise in anti-Asian hate, how government leaders should address racism in America, and growing up with Indian and Jamaican roots in Northern California.

From the Los Angeles Times, “Asian Enough” is a podcast about being Asian American — the joys, the complications and everything else in between. In each episode, hosts Jen Yamato and Frank Shyong invite celebrity guests to share their personal stories and unpack identity on their own terms. They explore the vast diaspora across cultures, backgrounds and generations, share “Bad Asian Confessions,” and try to expand the ways in which being Asian American is defined. New episodes drop every Tuesday.

Listen to the podcast (00:31:31) here. Download the podcast here.

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